THE longest-serving Conservative MP in Oxfordshire will now sit as an independent after he voted in favour of a debate to block a no deal Brexit.

Ed Vaizey, who has represented Wantage since 2005, was one of 21 former Conservatives who were stripped of their party affiliation on Tuesday.

He was joined by two former chancellors, Philip Hammond and Ken Clarke, and figures including Rory Stewart, Greg Clark and David Gauke, all of whom who had been in Theresa May’s cabinet just a few weeks ago.

His Wantage and Didcot constituency party said it ‘sadly acknowledged’ that Mr Vaizey had been told he could not sit as a Conservative and will not be considered as a candidate in the future.

Mr Vaizey said of rebelling against his party whip: "It is a decision I have been wrestling with for some days now, but I believe that this was the right thing to do.

"I hope this vote will make clear to the government that there is no majority in Parliament for a 'no deal' Brexit and they will now redouble their efforts to find an agreement with the European Union to deliver a sustainable and managed Brexit.”

Mr Vaizey added: "I know the Prime Minister would prefer an orderly Brexit and I wish him and his government well in their attempts to deliver just that."

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The Conservatives lost their majority on Tuesday afternoon in dramatic fashion after another former Tory, Phillip Lee, defected to the Liberal Democrats.

Mr Vaizey said: "I would like to thank all those who have contacted me, from all sides of the debate, to offer their support and kindness during what has been a hugely turbulent times in British politics."

Wantage’s MP is a respected figure in the media and technology sector following his time as a culture minister in David Cameron’s governments from 2010 until 2016.

In a statement, Wantage and Didcot Conservative Association’s officers said: “The association officers would like thank Ed for all his hard work since his selection in November 2002 and his election in 2005.

"Three years since the biggest democratic vote in our nation’s history, we need to get on and deliver on that referendum result and move on as a party and a country.

“We will decide on the selection of a Conservative Parliamentary Candidate in due course.”

Oxfordshire's other Conservatives, Victoria Prentis and John Howell, voted against supporting a debate to block no deal. They remain Tory MPs.

Earlier this week and before the ‘purge’ of Conservative MPs – as Mr Hammond called it – Mrs Prentis claimed ‘calm heads’ were needed.

She said: “Rebelling against the government at this late stage won’t help to achieve [Brexit], and I’m backing Boris [Johnson] in the hope that he can secure a deal.”

Mr Howell said on Sunday that although ‘as many will know, I have not always seen eye to eye with Boris Johnson,’ he felt criticism over the planned prorogation of Parliament was not fair.